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“I was fortunate to have been there when they wrote it. Paul was going out with my sister, and my parents kind of took pity on him and offered him the guest room in our house as a sort of pied-à-terre when the band wasn’t on the road. So Paul and I were sharing the top floor in our house for a couple of years, whenever The Beatles weren’t touring.
“In the basement of the house, there was a little music room where my mother used to give private oboe lessons whenever she wasn’t teaching at the Royal Academy Of Music up the road. It was a little room with an upright piano, a sofa and a music stand. When my mother wasn’t using it, Paul would sometimes go down there to write.
“There was a particular occasion when John came over. This was early on, when Paul had just moved in, when the two of them were writing more actively, physically together. They were down there a while, maybe an hour or so, and then Paul came upstairs, stuck his head in and asked if I wanted to come and hear something they’d just written. I went downstairs and sat on the sofa while they sat side-by-side on the piano bench – interestingly, no guitars – and played me I Want To Hold Your Hand.
“They asked me what I thought – as you can imagine, it made quite an impression. I could tell it was something very special. One of the characteristics of a hit is that you immediately want to hear it again, which was indeed my reaction: ‘Oh, my God! Can you play that again?’
“I don’t want to sound too pretentious about it, because it is only a three-minute pop song, but there is a certain epiphany in thinking that you’re present at the moment of creation of great art. You kind of go, ‘Am I losing my mind, or is this the greatest song I ever heard in my life?’”